Hooray! This morning was an amazing sunny, clear, blue sky, windless, summer Gower morning! Which was a good job as over 300 of us got up before the sun did to race in a sprint triathlon from Port Eynon. It’s a hell of a lot easier getting up daftly early when the rain isn’t bouncing off the roof & the wind isn’t throwing it at the windows. For some reason it’s always a bit of a rush getting sorted for this one. Maybe it’s the 7am start.
The swim is in the sea with a waist depth start kinda thing. The organisers were in a bit of a rush too as mid way through a warm up we were warned from a boat that the race would start in the next minute. Where is the start?
I stuck myself where I thought the start should be, on the line of buoys with the “front” guys but there were loads of swimmers scattered all over the place, many in front and to the side of us. The horn sounded unexpectedly, I found the start button on my watch & then chased the foam. In the pool yesterday I’d felt awesome & I’d set a new 1km PB in the week, but I wasn’t feeling it.
At the first buoy swimmers converged but some hadn’t paid attention to the swim route & tried to take a right angle over me to an imaginary buoy at the corner of a rectangle. This wasn’t a rectangular swim course though, it was more of a pointy sword shape so the angle of turn from the buoy was more like 120 degrees. I had to fend those buggers off and shoulder them in the right direction until. They got the gist.
We turned back to the shore from the next buoy and started to hammer it back to the beach. I was placed ok and it was all thinning out a bit, so it wasn’t going too badly. I spotted a line and a bunch of swimmers heading towards us from the left. These doughnuts had completely missed the furthest buoy and had taken a direct 90 degree turn to that imaginary buoy I mentioned. Some old fella T-boned me hard, oblivious to the bungle. So someone had taken the wrong line and a whole bunch had followed them and they’d all cut out a big chunk of the swim course. That was unlikely to affect us guys that would be at the eventual front but it was a bit of a blow to those that lost time to this group.
Fending off the attentions of the grey bearded swimmer and avoiding lamping him with my swim stroke I got going again in the front group. Into the shore the run up was a mix of soft sand and stones so we picked our way up as fast as we could. The swim was a bit too short and fast for my liking. For some reason I setup a battle between my wetsuit and my left elbow, which confused me, but transition itself was ok.
The bike route was Welsh and lumpy. The climb out of Port Eynon is short, steep, and great. It has been recently retarmac’d so its super smooth. Fairly big push up, pick up a bunch of places, settle into that lovely powerful aero position and tick off the K’s in the sun. I could see the riders ahead and picked off one at the top of Cefn Bryn (the main climb) and then another at the bottom of Cefn Bryn (the main descent). That was particularly satisfying as I caught that athlete with barely a pedal stroke at over 70kph in a full Sagan aero tuck.
The rate I was progressing I thought I’d catch the 2 ahead by the return to Port Eynon, but even putting the power on after Cefn Bryn I didn’t see them again until transition. It felt damned good pushing it back around the Gower and up the drag before the drop back to the sea. Good, good. Nice not to be blown around by the wind.
Coming into T2 James Hockin was just coming out so I wasn’t too far behind, but he and Ross Simpson are running a hell of a lot better than me right now. I stuck some cross country shoes on for this one in the vague hope that this might help but my cross country running skills are poor. Soft sand, firm sand, soft sand, boardwalk, sandy gassy paths, big gravel, soft sand, big puddles, grassy fields, ups and downs. Passing the aid station I lobbed my empty GlucoJuice bottle in a high arc from 10m into a large open bin and saluted the sky in achievement. The kids cheered that.
Towards the end of the first lap I started feeling good again and I kinda floated around the second lap. That was something I was thinking about and aiming at. Go light, power, drive, but glide over the rough surface. In the second lap I had to overtake a lot of athletes starting their first lap but I reckoned I had a good gap behind so the second lap was probably a bit steadier. By the finish line I was enjoying myself and fancied going around again. This 5k lark is a bit short for me I reckon. Something to work on maybe.
Third place again. I’m not particularly impressed by my performance, but the race was a nice reward in itself; a lovely morning, a pretty plaque, and free entry to next year’s race (that’s what I was running hard for on the first lap!) Claire also finished 3rd in the women’s race, Leanne finished 2nd (one of my students), and James and some other Cardiff Triathletes were also racing so I was glad I made the effort. If the kids could have got up and out the door at 5am we would have spent the rest of the day on the beach because it was a cracking morning. Instead once I finally got home I spent big parts of the afternoon asleep on the sofa in front of the final time trial of the Tour de France before watching Wiggo rip another minute off all all his competitors.
I’m hoping next year’s race will be in the middle of a hot and sunny summer.
Gower Triathlon website